for the Media
What was your motivation for writing the book?
I have wanted to write for many years. Even before I was writing full-time, I felt compelled to write this story. After our reunion, when my birth daughter Kate was 16, and I got to know her and her adoptive family, it became clear that ours was a unique story. I realized that her adoptive mom Anne was an extraordinary human being with an extraordinary confidence and capacity to love. I knew this story could be an inspiration for others involved or getting involved in adoption.
2. What is your elevator speech for what the book is about?
It’s the true story of when I was starting out in my career and had just hit the jackpot of a job when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant by a man I’d only been dating for a few months. The father wasn’t ready to commit to anything except being there during the pregnancy. He wasn’t going to leave me, but wouldn’t progress in our relationship until after the “baby crisis” was over. I agonized over the decision of whether to keep my baby without a support system, give up my job and go home, or opt for adoption. The book goes on to cover the difficult following years, our reunion, and the amazing and beautiful relationship that developed not only between my birth daughter and me, but also between our families, and especially between her mother and me.
3. Who will be most interested in this book?
I’m hoping this will be a book that any birthmother or father, adoptive parent or adoptee might find extremely helpful. I would wish for them to read this story and know they are not alone, and furthermore, that love and hope can triumph, and that relationships are possible. And that sometimes your dreams can come true, and new families can be born out of these tragic beginnings. One of my main messages is to adoptive parents. I’m hoping they will see how Anne was able to live confidently, without fear, and by doing so, she enabled her child to not only answer questions she had, but also enrich her life with love from a whole new family. It was scary and it took courage. But it paid off in spades. It was through Anne’s generous attitude that we became a blended family, and we all benefited. That’s a message I’d love to successfully get out to the world.
4. If you don’t have an adoption connection, why would you want to read this book?
First, I’ve been told it’s a good read; written like a novel, not a resource book. So I would hope anyone who wants to get caught up in a good story might enjoy this book. Second, it is a universal story of love, sacrifice, sorrow, joy and relationships. It’s heart-breaking, heart-stopping and heart-warming all wrapped up in one story. It’s for anyone who likes a good read, and any parent would especially enjoy it.
5. There’ve been a lot of books on adoption. Why is this one different?
There are a lot of books out there on adoption, from various perspectives. I also think so much of the coverage is negative- stories gone wrong, terrible outcomes. I think mine is different because it really focuses on the unexpected and soul-connected relationship between Kate’s adoptive mom and me. The relationship between the two mothers is something that hasn’t been explored fully before, and while I know ours is unusually close, I think it’s possible to inspire others to try some of what we did, and perhaps have better results. I don’t want to be Pollyanna; I know it can be very difficult, and sometimes there is disappointment, continuing sorrow, and regret. We were lucky and all parties involved just happened to live in faith, not fear. Again, lucky. I’m hoping that through our story, people might see ways that they can make the most of their situation. And that both birthmothers and adoptive mothers can see that there really can be hope, and that as Anne says, the more love the better.
6. Why didn’t you keep the baby, or even have an abortion?
Well, that’s a lot of the story. As a born and raised Roman Catholic, abortion was not on the table for me. It just was never an option from Day One. That actually was one of the shocking revelations that came from this- I had many women tell me they couldn’t bear to give their baby up so they had an abortion. To me it was the opposite. I couldn’t conceive of ending my baby’s chance at life. So it was a decision between keeping her, and adoption, and I wanted the best life for her. Her father was not able to commit to being there, my family was in another state and my job was much more than full-time- it was long nights, weekends if necessary, whatever it took. My baby would spend most of her life in daycare, and adoption offered so much more for her. But the decision was agonizing.
7. There is a lot of curiosity about birthmothers. What was the hardest part of giving up your baby?
There was no easy part. It is every bit as hard as you might imagine. I’m sure there are many reasons women make this choice, but I have to guess that it always involves the love to want the best for your child. I wanted this book to clearly reveal the battle that goes on within; the terror, the fear, the sorrow. This is rarely, if ever, a decision made lightly or easily. It tears your heart out. But I want people to consider that maybe, if we are all on a journey to learn and grow, there can be hope and love that come from this; that maybe the agony can be worth it in the end. It was for me.
8. Did you have a relationship with the baby’s father?
I ended up having a four-year relationship with Kate’s birth father. I got pregnant, however, after just a few months of dating. Her father decided to be a supportive partner through the pregnancy, but didn’t want any decisions made about our future during that time. I had to make my decision based on the probability of no relationship with him after my baby was born. After the adoption, we tried repeatedly to make the on-again, off-again relationship work, but it seems that the adoption haunted us, and we finally split for good.
9. How old was your daughter when you reunited with her, and how did it unfold?
Kate was 16 when we had our long-awaited reunion. Without ruining the suspense in the book, it was completely her decision, which her parents supported. It started with a letter, then emailing, then a phone call and then a weekend together.
10. How is your relationship now with your birthdaughter and her mom?
Family, pure and simple. We talk, we text, we visit one another, we go places together. Kate is close with her half-sisters, and very close with my husband, and both of our families just blend together. While I would never attempt to “mother” Kate, because she has a mother, I think my relationship with her is loving, and maternal - actually we’ve created our own birth daughter-mother relationship. I think that’s what happens in an adoption situation. If you are fortunate to reunite, or if it’s open from the start, you create the bond that works for you. Anne remains someone very special to me- a specially connected friend, a sister. I feel like we were meant to be in each other’s lives, all of us.
11. How do you hope your book will help your readers as mothers?
While will of course speak with inspiration to birthmothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees, I think it will also speak to all mothers. It is a study in what true motherhood is, which is making decisions for your CHILD’S well-being regardless of what that means for yourself. One book reviewer said it so beautifully in her review-
It so beautifully describes the true definition of parenting--that of unconditional love for a child, knowing and honoring the child's needs both short and long-term, selfless giving, listening to one's self to know what is right, and doing it even when it is difficult or risky.”
Adoption is misunderstood in many ways, and most people struggle with the notion of “giving your child away.” How does one do that? How can a mother make a decision like that? One goal I have is to make clear that it’s a mother’s love that makes a decision like that possible . . . a love so fierce that you put your life on hold to give your child a chance at life, and then love even more by making a heart-wrenching decision to provide the best life for that child. On the other side, my daughter’s adoptive mom also did everything the reviewer described by opening her heart to me for “our” daughter’s sake, and facilitating our reunion and relationship. Her philosophy “the more love the better” has turned us from strangers to one family. What an amazing example of motherhood for any reader!
12. What do you enjoy about writing and what challenges have you found most difficult in the process?
I love when the inspiration strikes and you just can’t stop writing, no matter what time it is or what’s going on. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to express your innermost thoughts in a creative way, and it’s fun when it just flows out of you. I also love that you can do it anywhere, anytime. I transitioned from television producing to writing when my children were small and I wanted to do something that I could do from home when they were at school or asleep. I became a syndicated newspaper columnist, wrote for some magazines, and then moved on to books and speaking.
The challenges are the same for any writer- staying focused, and staying on task, especially if you write from home. The phone rings, you check your Facebook page, you throw a load of laundry in and suddenly it’s not a productive day. I also find the promotion part of writing books difficult. I don’t like selling (i.e. pushing) myself. It makes me uncomfortable asking friends for favors or being that “pain in the neck” author trying to pester producers to do a segment on his/her book. It’s a necessary evil and I’m not good at that.